Puget Sound halibut fishing and “groundfish” including crab on the Washington Coast could open by the end of May, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind told the Fish and Wildlife Commission this morning.
“We’re shooting for both of them toward the end of the month,” he said, allowing that it could also occur in June.
Those saltwater fisheries and others were not included in the May 5 Washington reopener given coastal communities’ concerns about the spread of Covid-19.
WDFW documents consider groundfish to be rockfish and lingcod, among others.
Susewind also pointed toward next month for shrimping in Puget Sound. In response to questions from commissioners he said that there were hurdles to overcome before greenlighting it, including necessary overflights used to estimate shellfisher effort.
“The pilot can’t have a mask on, the observer can’t be 6 feet away,” he stated.
There’s also a chance of a small razor clam opener on the coast this month, but Susewind stated that that depended on the beaches being reopened.
He said that coastal counties would need an exemption under the governor’s Phase 2 reopening plan but that they were also “proceeding” on that.
“That leaves salmon and halibut on the coast. Those will be later,” Susewind said.
He said that there are concerns from coastal communities about halibut, a “big time fishery” that can “bring a lot of visitors.”
Susewind’s remarks came during his Director’s Report to the commission as it held its monthly meeting on Zoom.
Questioned about a sturgeon retention opener on the Lower Columbia – the subject of fiery comments from an Astoria-based guide during an ODFW-WDFW teleconference this week – Susewind pointed to late summer and said it would have to be dealt with under US v. Oregon Compact talks.